Unity at the Parliament of the World’s Religions 2018
Unity leaders joined over 10,000 religious scholars, interfaith teachers, spiritual luminaires, New Thought leaders, and Nobel Laureates from more than 200 religions and 80 nations for the oldest interfaith event on the planet at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto, November 1-7, 2018.
“The Promise of Inclusion, the Power of Love: Pursuing Global Understanding, Reconciliation, and Change” was a powerful theme that shaped the many conversations at the event.
Coming Together as One Spiritual People
The host country’s indigenous population brought a strong presence and voice to this event. A special exhibit for the host country is "The Quilt of Belonging," a 120-foot long collaborative textile art project with 263 blocks that portray the cultural legacies of the First Peoples in Canada and every nation of the world at the dawn of the new millennium.
Unity Magazine® editor Katy Koontz shared her detailed insights into the experience at the event, including Ojibway-Anishinabe elder Jim Dumont (Walks Above the Ground) calling “for all human beings to let go of all our various religions and to come together truly as one spiritual people.”
Dumont proposed the formation of the Institute for the Study of the Spirit to develop and promote a global spirituality suitable for all citizens of Planet Earth.
Browse our PoWR Photo Gallery
Read Unity Magazine editor Katy Koontz’s personal experience of PoWR
Embracing a Diversity of Spiritual Practices
Attending the Parliament of the World’s Religions offered Unity leaders an incredible opportunity to reach diverse religious communities for conversation and connection. Interfaith dialogues created greater understanding of the Unity movement.
“It is through listening to, honoring, and embracing this diversity of spiritual practice and beliefs that we can more deeply see the interconnectedness of all life,” said Jim Blake, Unity World Headquarters CEO. “By honoring diverse spiritual practices, we demonstrate the peace and healing needed for our world today.”
A Unity ‘Homecoming’
Dozens of Unity ministers from all over the world attended, including Rev. Deb Hill-Davis of Unity of Ames, Iowa, who says attending felt like “coming home.”
“I had that ‘homecoming’ experience during the six days I was in Toronto. Truly it was a global community with people from every part of the planet holding a consciousness together of the absolute interconnectedness of all beings,” Hill-Davis said.
“I heard over and over again the affirmation of our interconnectedness no matter which religious or spiritual path we followed. … It was a lived experience of the cosmic love of which Eric Butterworth speaks in Practical Metaphysics.”
Unity was also represented at the event by:
- Jim Blake, CEO, Unity Worldwide Headquarters
- Rev. Donna Johnson, CEO, Unity Worldwide Ministries
- Rev. Mark Fuss, director of Outreach and Engagement
- Rev. Jacquie Fernandez, multimedia manager
- Jill Angelo, Unity Books
- Diane Ray, director of Unity Online Radio
- Katy Koontz, editor, Unity Magazine
- Cheri Jamison, program manager. Outreach and Engagement
Rev. Jacquie Fernandez joined Unity Center of Miami’s Rev. Charline Manuel in leading an interactive leadership workshop on collaboration, diversity, and inclusion.
“It was wildly exciting to watch other leaders engage in these sensitive topics, to be vulnerable with other leaders and to really address tough questions,” said Fernandez. “Our ministries will deeply benefit from this conversation.”
Why Interfaith Work Matters for Unity
Author and Episcopal priest Matthew Fox led a Cosmic mass at the event and signed copies of his new book, published by Unity Books, Stations of the Cosmic Christ.
Rev. Kelly Isola, Unity minister and chair of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, attended the event and shared her insight on the impact of interfaith relationships.
“Interfaith work is about finding the places where we agree and building on those,” says Rev. Kelly Isola.
“Where we don’t agree, we celebrate the differences—the diversity inherent in life.
“This is the practice of demonstrating that all life is sacred,” she continued. “This is why it is so important for Unity to engage in interfaith work. It is a demonstration of our first two principles.”
Unity and the History of Parliament of the World’s Religions
The Parliament of the World's Religions expresses a Global Ethic that anyone can sign. The statement became an official declaration of the Parliament of the World's Religions in 1993.
In 1893, Unity founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore attended the first Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, where they were strongly influenced by Hindu philospher Swami Vivekananda, who spoke of religious tolerance and universal acceptance.
From the first Parliament of the World’s Religions event, Unity leaders challenged the traditional Western understanding of the Divine. Today we live in a religiously diverse nation where Unity continues to demonstrate how listening to and honoring a variety of spiritual practices benefits our world.
“We have borrowed the best from all religions,” Charles Fillmore said. “That is the reason we are called Unity.”